(Story sourced from the Dubois County Free Press)
Another important topic discussed at Tuesday’s Huntingburg Council meeting was an update on the progress of a newly revised comprehensive plan. The state recommends a city’s comprehensive plan be updated every five years. Huntingburg’s was last updated in 2007; the council approved the process of updating it in April of this year. One key item that has become apparent is how the future addition of an overpass has greatly affected the direction of the city’s development.
Many aspects of the comprehensive plan currently being developed by Orlando-based Real Estate Research Consultants, Inc., are built upon the 2007 plan. Representative Tom Kohler says the new plan his firm is developing includes some new ideas and further clarification of ideas included in 2007. The previous plan was built around the assumption of completion of a rerouted and improved U.S. 231. However the state pulled those dollars to complete I-69. Now, with the recent announcement and funding of the Huntingburg Overpass project, Kohler’s team is using that as a guiding force for the city’s development.
According to Kohler, the overpass project provides an essential connectivity between the north and south side of the city. This connectivity greatly enhances the propensity for economic and recreational development by removing the factor of up to 30 trains cutting off portions of the city daily. The Styline Overpass, as it is currently proposed, connects 14th Street on the north side of Huntingburg using Styline Drive, effectively creating a throughway that will direct traffic to flow in front of the Huntingburg Event Center. According to Kohler, this new commerce corridor could fuel development near the event center and would also solidify Huntingburg as a market for major department store chains in the future.
On a recreational basis, Kohler says the overpass could serve to connect a citywide trail system connecting all the parks, downtown area and the schools. He also recommended making Memorial Gym more prominent in the community and to develop the green space near the Teen Outback as a potential trailhead.
One area in which Kohler’s plan veers from the 2007 Comprehensive Plan is in relation to the Huntingburg Airport. He told the council the city should be providing more support to the airport in relation to the economic boon the site could mean for the county. He identified it as a potential port authority but also as a connection with the continued research into unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) being conducted by Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center.
The airport also has one of the state’s few shovel ready sites. These sites are immediately ready for development by potential companies and could be used to entice a technology firm centered around the development of UAVs. Huntingburg could potentially expand infrastructure services it already has in place to help support the growth of an industrial/technology park on the shovel ready site.
“The airport is a valuable asset, but the potential there is somewhat untapped,” Mayor Spinner said, “I heard from the council that they are excited about seeing ways to better partner with the airport and seeing ways we can leverage it as a great tool for the city.”
According to Mayor Denny Spinner, the plan is waiting on the completion of a study being conducted on 4th Street before it will be finalized by Kohler’s team and then approved by the council.